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Early Understanding of Lent

Mar 13, 2014

The Sacrament of Baptism is the primary sacrament of forgiveness of sin.  In the early church, prior to the fourth century, those who were guilty of serious sin were ostracized by the Church and had no means to return.  Given the beliefs of the time, many put off the sacrament until they were near death, so as to insure that they would be saved.

During times of persecution, it was not uncommon for Christians to recant their faith in the face of death and torture.  Following Constantine’s Edict of Milan in 313, which made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire, those who had recanted now wanted to return to the Church.  Since they had already been baptized, how was the Church to welcome them back?

The Order of Penitents allowed those who were public sinners to return to the Christian community.  The Order, mirrored the catechumenate – a period of penance and purification, as they prepared to renew their baptismal promises at Easter.  Lent is this period of penance and purification in preparation for celebrating the Paschal Mystery, renewing our baptismal promises, and celebration the Sacraments of Initiation.

Through the practices of Lent, all of us can be prepared to remember our Baptism, the dying to self and rising with Christ.

Fasting

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.  For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may also be taken, but not to equal a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.

 

Prayer

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament – Thursdays following Mass until Benediction at 5pm.
Stations of the Cross – Fridays at 7pm
Daily Mass – Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday at 9am, and Thursday at 9:15 am

 

Almsgiving

Mahtomedi Area Food Shelf
Catholic Relief Services
Dorothy Day Center
Catholic Services Appeal